It’s been too long since I’ve posted, but me and the crew have been super busy feeding people! We are now about one month in to distribution, and things have been going quite well. Our parking lot was (almost) finished just in the nick of time; the dozer operator was at it until about an hour before the first Monday distribution, and we still didn’t have an entrance, just an exit. He was able to finish before our first Thursday distribution, and with some help from Erin’s dad with traffic direction and flow (he’s an engineer.. very handy!), people had the routine down pretty soon.
We had excellent weather for the first several distributions, which was a nice change from last year, when the lot was so muddy we had to hand people their bagged shares through their car windows, in a make shift drive-through out on the road. That was my main motivation in building a real parking lot this year! It may have been a slightly rash choice in terms of our budget, as I’m still not sure how we will pay for it in the short term, but it was near the top of the list of things the land needed to make the new Mud Creek a thriving and welcoming place. And the contractor (thanks to John Welch for the connection, who’s “got a guy” for most everything!) did a beautiful job, for quite a decent price.
I was anxious to see how our veggies would grow in our soils this year, and for the most part I’ve been pleased. There are a couple fields that I misjudged.. ground that I thought would be better drained, as it’s higher, and therefor preferable for early crops turns out to be clay, which holds on to moisture forever. As a result, some of our early crops, like broccoli, arugula, bok choi and kohlrabi, didn’t do that well. The soil had to be worked too wet, because of timing, and then dried into “dirt rocks,” making it hard for the plants to spread their roots and soak in nutrients. Some of them failed completely, and others looked small and strange, and didn’t yield much. Now we know, though, and can plan accordingly for next year! Other fields turned out to be the most beautiful, almost black, crumbly silty loam. It looks like river bottom. The vegetables planted in those fields look fantastic, and all we have to do is keep the weeds out of their way and watch them do their thing.
The pick-your-own section is looking pretty great as well. Most of our beds are 200 feet long, for ease of planning, but when I measured out our fields last fall I decided to plow some short beds for pick your own, all about 50 feet. This was mostly so that I could use the extra flat ground that was left after measuring out the 200 ft. beds behind, but it has turned out for the best. One of the problems we always had in the p.y.o section was the front part of a 200 ft. bed (it happened mostly with the herbs) being picked clean, while the back three quarters got neglected and went to seed. People would then see the front completely empty, assume the rest was the same and move on to the next planting, resulting in a lot of waste. With the short beds, our entire first planting of basil got evenly picked throughout before people moved on to the next planting, so it seems to be working well! We have long beds in the p.y.o. too, but things like herbs, the first beans, and edible flowers are all in the short beds.
What other news? The crew is all doing well, although Josh hurt his back last week.. these things always happen at the busiest time of year! He’s been seeing the chiropractor who’s trading a share for service, and that’s a big help, but he still needs to take some time to heal. Other than that, the crew is working well together. Jonny has his pigs out in the back, 5 this year. No one has seen much of them, whenever they hear someone approach they run into the brush. They have a little section of brushy woods that they’ve made into a maze of trails, and they spend most of their time in there, munching on roots and vines and weeds.
Distribution has been very satisfying, that’s the payoff for me after all the hard work we’ve put into the place. When I get to the farm in the morning, all I can see are the things that need to get done, but when the farm is suddenly flooded with members, I get to see it through their eyes; we’ve accomplished a lot in the past few months! And feeding people delicious, healthy vegetables is the best part. I love seeing the delight and excitement on peoples’ faces when they get the first beets of the season, or find that there’s a lot of butterhead lettuce and they get to take 3, or when little kids get to pick their own beans and some of them are purple, and they eat them all before even getting back to the car. I like having new members come, looking a little overwhelmed and unsure the first week, then seeing them the next week, excited to tell me what they made with “that weird thing… kohlrabi!” and how much their kids liked it.
We are in the middle of the busiest time of year, when we are harvesting, weeding, and also still planting our final fall crops, but soon it will be August and the planting part will be over. Until then, I will take a breath and enjoy what’s been created whenever I get the chance, but mostly I’ll be getting back to work.